Par for the Course: John Bush, '92
The water cooler at John Bush’s office must be pretty interesting. John is a media official at the PGA Tour, so his office is typically on a beautiful golf course. Instead of hanging around with the likes of coworkers such as Milton Waddams or a callous boss like Bill Lumber from the movie "Office Space," John, a Life Member of My Carolina, works with Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy.
“When I first started on the job in 2001, I was starstruck by everyone on Tour,” John says, “whether it was Tiger Woods or a journeyman just looking to make ends meet, but I’ve since gotten over that. Almost to a man, our players are extremely friendly and a great group with which to work.”
John has also had the chance to be a part of golf history, and those opportunities are among his best memories of the job.
“I walked all 36 holes of Annika Sorenstam’s historic PGA Tour start at the Colonial in 2003,” John says. “I worked and handled Stuart Appleby’s historic round of 59 at the 2010 Greenbrier Classic—one of just five players to post a sub-60 score on Tour. I worked the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews—the birthplace of golf. Also, working the Masters for the first time because my family is on the patron’s list, so I haven’t missed a Masters since I first started going at the age of nine—33 straight years! But working it the first time was a thrill. I’ve yet to play it, though. I call it the one and only item on my 'bucket list.'”
Chasing a Lifelong Dream
Originally from the small town of Graniteville, SC, located between Aiken and Augusta, John says it was an easy decision to come to Carolina and receive a quality education within an hour from his home.
“Several factors led to my choice of Carolina, but none more important than having been raised with a strong allegiance to the Gamecocks and with an extreme dislike of the color orange,” John says.
Ever since he was a kid, John knew he wanted to be involved in sports in some capacity, and he found what he was looking for at Carolina.
“When my athletic ability was surpassed by my career aspirations, at an early age, I might add, I realized working behind the scenes in sports was much more obtainable than a career on the playing field,” John says. “The prestige of Carolina’s sport-administration program was really starting to grow when I was looking at college choices. After meeting with Dr. Guy Lewis, one of the pioneers of the sport-management industry, I was sold on the program and what it could do for my future.”
While the coursework certainly satisfied John’s professional ambitions, the instructors made his educational experience memorable, especially any course taught by Dr. Peter Graham.
“There was never a dull moment in one of Dr. Graham’s classes,” John says. “He was a master at making a class educational, interesting and funny at the same time.”
While at Carolina, John was able to gain valuable professional experience by working in the sports-information office for the athletics department.
“I owe a great deal of the success I’ve achieved in my career to the experiences I gained working in the sports-information office alongside SID legend Tom Price, Kerry Tharp, and Brian Binette, to name a few.”
While he was a member of the Sport Administration Club, outside of the classroom, most of John’s time on campus was spent in the Rex Enright Athletic Center as a student assistant and, later, graduate assistant in the sports-information office.
Being asked to sneak LSU basketball star Shaquille O’Neal out of the Carolina Coliseum and into his team bus without being noticed by a large group of autograph seekers ranks among his best memories of those early experiences.
“Having a front row seat for four years to Gamecock athletics events is one of my best memories, as well,” John says. “I still remember sitting at the scorer’s table for the first time at a Carolina-Clemson soccer match and being blown away by the intensity of the rivalry.”
Moving Up in the Sports World
While serving as a graduate assistant in the sports-information office, John left Columbia in early 1995 so he could be with his mother shortly after his father passed away as the result of a brain tumor. Opportunity soon knocked, and he got back into athletics as the sports-information director at Augusta State University. There, he was responsible for all media relations, game management, statistics, the athletics web site, media guides and many other duties for the Jaguar athletics department, which competes at the NCAA Division II level in the Peach Belt Conference.
John began his role as a media official for the PGA Tour in 2001. His work as a sports-information director prepared him well for his dream job.
“My role is very similar to an SID, serving as a liaison between the media and our players,” John says. “We are responsible for running the media center, managing and coordinating players' pre- and post-round media obligations, as well as moderating all press conferences. Working with the likes of past greats like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, or with current stars such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, never gets old,” John says. The only negative is being away from family, but my wife has gotten pretty good at finding vacation time if I’m going to Hawaii, Europe or Australia.”
There are certainly plenty of perks with this line of work, including opportunities to meet many other celebrities who are not professional golfers.
“Highlights include meeting President George H. W. Bush—he called me his long, lost nephew—and President Bill Clinton,” John says. “I’ve met Michael Jordan, Bill Murray, and Darius Rucker. He’s the coolest guy around. Also Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, and I moderated a press conference with George Lopez.”
With all the time watching, talking, and being around professional golfers, John admits it hasn’t done a lot to improve his golf game.
“My golf game is pretty much non-existent these days,” John says. “I played so much more prior to joining the PGA Tour. When you’re working at a golf course for about 25-30 weeks a year, sometimes the last place you want to see when you get home is a golf course. Having said that, I never pass up an opportunity to play at St. Andrews, which was the thrill of a lifetime, Oak Hill, TPC Sawgrass, or any of the other great golf courses when given a chance.”
John and his wife, Amy, have one daughter, Amber, and live in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Amy works as a liver-transplant coordinator for the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. He admits that Amy’s Job is far more important than his, but that his job is much more fun.
As you might guess, traveling most of the year makes it difficult to get back to campus as often as he would like, but he anxiously awaits the release of the Carolina football schedule each year to see which games he might be able to attend.